On 30 August 2014 (just over a year ago), two rhino cows were darted and poached on Kapama Game Reserve, their horns brutally removed. Despite the severity of the wounds, these two managed to survive the ordeal. We have been treating these two survivors, Lion’s Den and Dingle Dell, ever since. Dingle Dell’s wound has since completely healed, but we have unfortunately been struggling with Lion’s Den’s wound.
Nasal epithelium is pushing up from the nasal canals and preventing the growth of healthy granulation tissue (healing tissue) in an area on the wound, causing a hole that won’t go away. On 7 August, we inserted a dissolvable plate into this hole in an attempt to create a barrier between the nasal canals and the wound. We were really hoping that this would aid in the healing process, and that the wound would finally close.
On 3 September, we noticed once again that Lion’s Den’s cast was coming loose, so we quickly called our veterinary team to come out. Dr Rogers and his team arrived just before 5pm, and everyone set out to begin the process.
After Lion’s Den was darted, she came down against a fence (in exactly the same spot as last time!), and had to first be moved into a better position. The whole team worked to get the rhino cow in place. We then quickly began by removing the damaged cast.
The cast was removed, to reveal the wound underneath. Unfortunately, we saw some maggots in the wound, but luckily they had caused no damage, and there was no sign of infection. The wound was cleaned with water so that we could properly inspect it. Insecticidal spray was also applied to the wound to get rid of the maggots.
Dr Rogers removed some of the nasal epithelium from around the wound, as it was still continuing to grow despite our efforts to stop it. The wound was not looking as good as we had hoped. While the dissolvable plate was still in place, it seemed to have been pushed up by what could possibly be more nasal epithelium.
Dr Rogers deadened the nerves around the wound with a local anesthetic and a painkiller was also administered. The screw holes (where screws were previously drilled in to hold the cast in place) were flushed out with chlorhexidine to prevent infection.
Terramycin, an antibiotical powder was applied over the wound. Then, an antiseptic ointment with insecticide was applied. A cotton swab is placed over this, and the team began applying the cast. Over this, a metal plate was fitted and fixed with screws.
Stockholm tar, to discourage flies, was poured over the cast and the rhino was dipped with an insecticide to discourage flies and ticks.
The reversal drug was administered to wake the rhino up and Dingle Dell quickly joined her companion.
We hope that despite all of the setbacks, Lion’s Den’s wound begins to heal! We are discussing her problem with specialists and we hope that we can come up with a solution soon.